UK gov't plans huge database of e-mails and phone calls

Government could track all emails and phone calls made in the UK

The UK government could track all emails and phone calls made in the UK, if its plans for a vast centralized database go ahead.

The plans may be included in the draft Communications Data Bill, under which the government has proposed better policing of data, including that on IP networks, in the interests of national security.

The government said in a statement that it needed to keep up with changes in technology so that it could better track communication.

"We are at the very early stages of deciding how to update the law to allow public authorities to continue to obtain and have access to communications data essential for counter-terrorism and investigation of crime purposes," it said.

"Losing the ability to use this data would have very serious consequences for law enforcement and intelligence gathering in the UK."

Ministers have not yet made a decision on whether a central database will feature in the bill.

Jonathan Bamford, assistant Information Commissioner, said that if all the records were held on one database, it "may well be a step too far."

"We are not aware of any justification for the state to hold every UK citizen's phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable." Safeguards would need to be in place to govern who can access the data, he said.

He also raised questions over the security of the data: "Holding large collections of data is always risky; the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen."

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesperson, called the plans "an Orwellian step too far", adding: "Given the appalling track record of data loss, this state is simply not to be trusted with such private information."

Shadow home secretary David Davis agreed: "Given [ministers'] appalling record at maintaining the integrity of databases holding people's sensitive data, this could well be more of a threat to our security than a support."

But while the government is moving to better track communications data, it once again missed an opportunity to express commitment to a dedicated e-crime unit when it launched the Communications Data Bill.

A proposal for a 50-strong, £5.3 million unit that would focus on investigating and fighting internet crime, was made last year but is still awaiting a response from the government.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Leo King

Computerworld UK
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?